Kerala Gold Smuggling was carried out with ease owing to diplomatic immunity
New Delhi, July 20: Investigation agencies have found that large consignments of gold in Kerala were smuggled through diplomatic channels.
The revelation comes just days after the UAE diplomat left India. It has been found that the racket was operated with ease owing to diplomatic immunity enjoyed by the diplomat, sources tell OneIndia.
The agencies had to seek prior permission from the Ministry of External Affairs to open the diplomat's bags. Three bags had come in between June 27 and July 3.
The sudden exit of the diplomat Rashed Alshemeili has also set the tongues wagging. He is a key witness in the case, but he made a sudden exit to his country. He enjoys immunity under the Vienna Convention. However on Sunday, he reached Delhi and took a flight to UAE.
The National Investigation Agency which was permitted by the Ministry of Home Affairs to probe the case is looking into a wide range of issues. A hawala network and the possible terror funding are on the radar of the NIA. The Enforcement Directorate too may join the probe soon, if any angle relating to money laundering crops up. Sources tell OneIndia that there is a high possibility of money laundering in this case and the ED is keeping a close watch on the developments.
The case has been registered under sections 16, 17 and 18 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, against 04 accused persons including Swapna Prabha Suresh
The case relates to the seizure of 30 kg of 24-carat gold worth Rs.14.82 crores at Trivandrum International Airport, the NIA said.
The aforesaid consignment was found camouflaged in diplomatic baggage from UAE that is exempted from inspection as per the Vienna Convention. The said consignment was to be received by Sarith P S who had worked in the UAE Consulate earlier as Public Relations Officer. Initial investigation by Customs Department has revealed that Sarith had received multiple such consignments earlier as well.
As the case pertains to smuggling of a large quantity of gold into India from offshore locations threatening the economic stability and national security of the country, it amounts to a terrorist act as stated in section 15 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.
Further, as the case has national and international linkages and as the initial enquiries have revealed that the proceeds of smuggled gold could be used for financing of terrorism in India, NIA had taken up the investigation of the case.